US to cut troop presence in Afghanistan to ‘less than 5,000’ by November, Pentagon chief Esper says
The number of US forces stationed in Afghanistan will be reduced to less than 5,000 in the coming months, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview with Fox News. The withdrawal, which would account for around half of the 8,600 personnel in the country, will be completed by November, he said.
“Right now we think that we can do all the core missions – first and foremost ensuring the United States is not threatened by terrorists coming out of Afghanistan – we can do those at a lower level,” he told Fox News’ Judge Jeanine. US President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he wanted to cap US troop presence in Afghanistan at 4,000.
The US has begun pulling forces from the country as part of a phased deal with the Taliban. Esper remarked that the peace process in the war-torn nation has been a “windy road” but was nonetheless making progress.